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Nick Smith on housing then and now

Written By: - Date published: 7:02 am, June 11th, 2015 - 66 comments
Categories: health, housing, national - Tags: , ,

national-housing-WOFHere (ht Brian Rudman) is Nick Smith in 2013:


The Government is to develop a Housing Warrant of Fitness system and trial it on Housing New Zealand properties, Housing Minister Nick Smith says.

“There are real gains for the health, safety, and welfare of New Zealanders, particularly children and the elderly, from having a better standard of housing,” he says.

“This year, the Government is going to develop a Warrant of Fitness with the support of a Rental Housing Standards Forum.

“The Government needs to first get its own house in order. That is why the Housing Warrant of Fitness will firstly apply to the 69,000 Housing New Zealand properties.

“It is also intended that the Housing WoF will then be extended to other social housing providers. The WoF may be further extended to other rental property where the Government is providing a housing subsidy.

“The new standard will ensure tenants can live in warm, dry, safe, and healthy homes. The WoF will complement the Government’s insulation programme which has seen around 215,000 homes insulated since 2009. Housing NZ is also on track to have insulated all of its homes capable of being insulated by the end of this year. …

That Nick Smith sounds sensible and compassionate, the sort of politician you can vote for. Here is Nick Smith in 2015:

Today’s Nick Smith sounds – well – unpleasant. Shades of Key’s promise to fix “the underclass”, that never happened either. Has National ever kept a constructive sounding social policy promise?

66 comments on “Nick Smith on housing then and now ”

  1. tracey 1

    Is the government divesting itself of State Houses so it can never be held accountable for the deaths or illnesses of any of its tenants in the future?

  2. Charles 2

    “People dying in winter of pneumonia and other illnesses is not new.”

    Oh dear me Nick, yes, you’re right. Then again, government ministers careers being cut-short isn’t unusual either, winter or summer. Sometimes whole cities are reduced to rubble during a winter. Not unusual. Sometimes, in Italy, horrible things happened in the Spring. Much later, during a Berlin summer, wonderful things happened. Nothing is unusual Nick. Try to stay positive, old bean, wouldn’t want to catch a cold.

  3. Marvellous Bearded Git 3

    Smith seems to be adopting this approach:

    He was in Queenstown bullshitting yesterday about how wonderful special housing areas are, where in fact they drive a coach and horses through the District Plan and the local council had land/housing zoning under control already.

    • Molly 3.1

      Yes, the SHA’s completely undermine any planning intentions of cohesive city planning.

      They are decided on during Local Board meetings close to the public, and it means the influence of local noteables on political representatives is much stronger.

      SHA’s are the Clayton’s of intended planning.

      • Marvellous Bearded Git 3.1.1

        And in the Queenstown Lake District Council’s case the council’s CEO happens to be a major stakeholder in one area proposed as a SHA. Funny that. (Apologies for being off-topic here)

        • tracey

          can you set out the dots that prove that connection for us?

          • Marvellous Bearded Git

            @tracey This from the ODT 29th May 2014. Go to odt.co.nz and search “Feeley” to see other info.

            “The Auditor-General will investigate a special housing area bid by Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Adam Feeley’s family trust.
            Arrowtown Village Association acting chairman Wayne Hulls is now calling for the proposal to be pulled from consideration at this coming Wednesday’s council meeting.

            The inquiry was confirmed by the Auditor-General’s office this morning.

            Spokesman Mike Heine said: “In May, we received several requests from people in the Queenstown Lakes District to inquire into the chief executive’s interest in land owned by his family being considered for a special housing area, including any involvement he had in developing the housing accord and the council’s policy before he declared an interest.

            “The requests raise issues of trust and confidence in council processes, and issues about how council officers can participate in those processes as members of the community.”

  4. keith ross 4

    I think one of the main problems is the price of electricity. We can all afford heaters but many can’t afford to run them. Considering that I paid high tax in earlier decades to build infrastructure that produces electricity at a price any country would dream of. (the hydro dams) Why do we have to pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for electricity? Do we have to make a profit off everything that the govt does? And how much profit is really acceptable for an essential life giving service?

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      “Why do we have to pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for electricity? ”

      So the owners of the electricity companies can afford to build new generation plants.

      • tracey 4.1.1

        So the owners of the electricity companies can afford to build new generation plants and return healthy dividends to their shareholders


      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2

        Except that, when it comes down to it, the same thing will happen as happened with fibre to the home – the government will end up paying for the new plant while the new private owners get to reap the profits.

    • tracey 4.2

      I think some people genuinely cannot conceptualise the notion that someone can’t afford content insurance, or health insurance or, heaters and heating. And yet increasingly…

      • Chch_chiquita 4.2.1

        I have just paid $500 worth of electricity for the month and on top of that there will be the cost of wood for the log burner, and I have an insulated home with an HRV system that keeps it dry. You don’t need to be a maths genius to make the calculation that someone on minimum wage simply can not afford this.

        • tracey

          But you do have to have the ability to

          a. imagine people liv ein circumstances that are different from your own; and
          b. give a shit

      • Draco T Bastard 4.2.2

        Yep, see that in my social circles. I’m constantly having to explain to the comfortably well off that low income people just can’t afford that which they take for granted.

        • tracey

          sadly, many of my circle then respond by saying they should.
          a. get a job if they are bludging beneficiary
          b. upskill to get a better job

          • john

            It may be harsh, but that’s just reality.

            If people think they can get a significant rise in income, but not change what they are doing, then they are mistaken.

            Perhaps if they wait another 43 years another government might be generous enough to add another $25 a week to benefits.

            Technology improvements means there are fewer and fewer low skilled jobs.

            So the only choice is to get skilled. No government (left or right) will ever be able to afford to do anything more than tinker with benefits.

            Waiting for someone else to improve your life is totally futile.

            • freedom

              “Perhaps if they wait another 43 years another government might be generous enough to add another $25 a week to benefits.”

              Only those beneficiaries with kids get the increase and it does not even start till April 2016 and what the new funding adds is simply taken away when increased childcare costs, reduced accommodation assistance and the very real expenses of looking for work are factored in. The few coins that might be left over make no real difference to these people’s lives when you consider inconvenient details like climbing power prices, rent increases and simpler factors like how milk has broken $3 a litre.

              If you did not already know that the greatest number of beneficiaries, that is Jobseekers without children, are not getting any increase at all then you simply show how you swallowed the spin without applying any critical thinking. If you did know the difference then you are simply being disingenuous with your comment.

              So which is it?
              Are you ignorantly regurgitating misinformation, or just being deceitful?

              • happynz

                simpler factors like how milk has broken $3 a litre.

                Yikes! New Zealand milk imported here to Malaysia is cheaper than in the country of origin.

                Oh man! Am I ever having second thoughts about repatriating later this year.

              • john

                Thanks for reiterating my point – waiting for someone ELSE to improve your life is totally futile.

                • freedom

                  Please explain how my calling out your statement translates to
                  “waiting for someone ELSE to improve your life.”

                  If working hard and doing nothing but your very best was the secret to being wealthy, I would be. None of that however has any bearing on your using incorrect information on a blog post.

                  • john

                    You point out that the biggest rise in benefits that any government has given in 43 years, makes next to no difference. I agree.

                    Therefore waiting for a government to make big financial improvements to your life is totally futile – you have to do it yourself.

                    • freedom

                      No, the new work compliance conditions and the associated claws-backs the Government engineered for those receiving the increase mean the increase makes next to no difference.

                      But I am guessing you choose to believe government press releases describing rainbows and butterflies, rather than consider for a minute the real world difficulties facing tens of thousands of kiwis.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      How about a government that doesn’t destroy wealth and ruin people’s lives with hateful employment policies and no health and safety?

                      Yeah, that sounds preferable.

            • Chch_chiquita

              But the government has the ability to make sure power prices are affordable, and has the ability to make sure housing is affordable, and good healthcare is affordable.
              In my business I see many people with a job that are struggling. They are all good, hard working people that simply work in low skill jobs. Society needs these people. We can’t all be managers.

              • john

                We have a shortage of skilled workers.

                And more unskilled workers than unskilled jobs.

                And technology means there will be fewer and fewer unskilled jobs.

                • dv

                  ” We have a shortage of skilled workers.
                  Thus the price for skilled worker will rise and the shortage will be solved!!!

                  • john

                    Not necessarily. Demand can go up faster than increases in supply.

                    And often companies need “experienced” skilled workers – something that can take years or even decades to produce from scratch.

                    • dv

                      So are you saying we need planning.

                    • john

                      Yes – we need to have variable rates for university qualifications so qualifications like Law get less subsidy (60% of Law graduates can’t get work in Law).

                      And qualifications like engineering have bigger subsidies.

                      Recently the govt brought in information for students on the likelihood of getting work with around 50 different qualifications.

                      That’s a good step, but it also needs to be incentivised to stop people wasting thousands of their own dollars, twice as many taxpayer dollars (as the taxpayer pays for 2/3 of university fees) and years of their life, getting qualifications that are of little use to them.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And often companies need “experienced” skilled workers – something that can take years or even decades to produce from scratch.

                      And what our companies and government used to support creating but no longer do. For some strange reason our government and managers believe that they can just hire those sorts of people without putting in the effort to create them. Hence we see government and employers cutting back on education and training.

                    • McFlock

                      only a fucking moron thinks that an education is of little use.

                      And even if you were moronic enough to think that the income derived from working in the exact discipline one was educated in was the same as the utility of that education, obviously the Arts graduates whom Bob Jones preferred to hire got little use from their degree 🙄

            • Draco T Bastard

              It may be harsh, but that’s just reality.

              No, that’s your belief. The reality is that the government has been cutting back on people being able to upskill, jobs no longer upskill as they used to and the economy isn’t developing enough to require the amount of upskilling needed anyway.

              Technology improvements means there are fewer and fewer low skilled jobs.

              Actually, it’s pretty much the other way around. Technology pretty much destroys high skilled jobs by making them obsolete. We then compound the problem by not replacing them more high skilled jobs but low skilled jobs in the service sector and those types of jobs require large numbers of people willing to pay for the service which means lots of people with high paid jobs.

              No government (left or right) will ever be able to afford to do anything more than tinker with benefits.

              We don’t want the government to tinker with benefits, we want them to work with us to develop our economy. Something that the government stopped doing 30 years ago and the result has been increased inequality and increasing poverty in this land of plenty.

              • Molly

                +100. Thanks Draco.

              • john

                Draco says “Actually, it’s pretty much the other way around. Technology pretty much destroys high skilled jobs by making them obsolete.”

                Nonsense. Gone are all the typing pools, road gangs, rail gangs, and factory jobs of decades past.

                Today a car is made with just 30 hours of worker input – it used to take 350 hours.

                Technology is now replacing checkout operators, bank tellers, posties, and you can even buy an automatic burger maker now.

                Driverless cars are already possible, as is drone delivery of pizzas, books etc.

                Over 60% of businesses are reporting skill shortages. And unskilled can’t get work.

                Which all disproves your claim.

                • Colonial Rawshark

                  Corporate elites are creating an economy which doesn’t need people, and where most consumers are too poor to buy their products and services, especially when the financial system acts as a parasite on their backs.

                  McDonalds is trialling fully automated tellers and restaurant production systems around the world but they are also suffering 12 straight months of global sales declines.

                  No surprise when you’ve fired all your workers and people don’t even have the income to afford a $2 hamburger.

                  No wonder the western economic system has been struggling through a crappy malaise for years, with no end in sight. But hey that’s “progress.”

                  • john

                    A system where people are paid for doing work, works infinitely better better that a system where people think they deserve to get paid for doing nothing.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      True so why are you supportive of the present system which is predicated on the idea of a few getting rich off of other peoples work but who do no work themselves?

                    • dukeofurl

                      Well the Germans would disagree.

                      Since the GFC they have the Kurzarbeitergeld system where workers go on shorter hours but the government has topped up the pay, for up to 24 months.

                      Key kicked it around for a bit when he first became PM, especaiily for his crony capitalism mates. But he was easily distracted by other shiny things

                    • Colonial Rawshark

                      A system where people are paid for doing work, works infinitely better better that a system where people think they deserve to get paid for doing nothing.

                      That’s why NZ needs to consider a guaranteed employment scheme. A proper employment contract job at the minimum wage for anyone who wants full time or half time work, they get it. Guaranteed.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Gone are all the typing pools, road gangs, rail gangs, and factory jobs of decades past.

                  When the fibre was put in to the local cabinet a couple of years ago it was done by a road gang. Same as when the new rail line was put in it was done by a rail gang. Sure, it didn’t have the same numbers of people involved but it still required the gang.

                  Technology is now replacing checkout operators, bank tellers, posties, and you can even buy an automatic burger maker now.

                  So the low tech service jobs are going and are being replaced by a high tech low skill job which uses less people. Yes, keeping that automated burger maker filled with food and cleaned is a low skill job. Don’t believe me? Go buy a bread maker and make some bread with it and tell me just how much skill was required.

                  Over 60% of businesses are reporting skill shortages.

                  And, interestingly enough, when there’s actually an abundance of skilled practitioners available. I know this because of the supposed skill shortage a couple of years ago that was used to import foreign builders into Christchurch. There was plenty of unemployed builders available in NZ but they weren’t willing to work for less than it cost.

                  Basically, a large number of businesses are lying so that they can force wages down. And they could always have gone to the effort of training up those people who actually applied for the job as well as the businesses in NZ used to do.

                  • john

                    whatever – deny what’s really happening in the real world at your peril.

                    A real world fact is more people are working in more jobs for more money that ever before.

                    But the real world and real facts don’t fit your cultish doomsday scenario.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I’m not the one denying what’s happening in the real world – you are.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Does John really not understand that in New Zealand, there are always more people employed under Labour-led governments than under the incompetent party?

                      Is he so blinded by his hatred and bile?

                      Yes, he is.

                    • john

                      These idiots think the 1.72m people employed when Labour was last in, is more than the 1.82 million people employed today in NZ today.

    • Kiwiri 4.3

      “Do we have to make a profit off everything that the govt does?”

      Yes and that has to be societal profit that is paramount, above and beyond corporate profit.

  5. dukeofurl 5

    I see another one of those ‘housing areas’ Smith included in his Grand Design for more housing is not his to sell to the developers

    “Although Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith has touted a 1.4-hectare pocket just across the road from the new Manukau railway station as an ideal site for 60 terraced houses, Auckland Council has discovered it owns much of the site and wants more intensive development there.”

    Penny Hulse kicks Imperator Smith in the goolies with this

    “”There’s no point rushing to put 60 units on the site when you could actually get really good commercial development with commercial yield, plus a lot of well-designed, well-built apartments right next to the railway station.”

    Whats the word _- that comes to mind Omnishambles

    • tracey 5.1

      i think the price to the Government for the 1.4 hectares could be 500m (the amount they don’t want to contribute to the rail loop yet). Supply and demand old chaps.

      • Kiwiri 5.1.1

        if i am an auckland property developer, i would be generously providing facilitation payments to the nats coffers for 2017.

  6. adam 6

    Does beg the questions –

    Do we want the Tory idiots fixing anything?

    Would we not be better to start fixing these things without them?

    • Treetop 6.1

      The Torys are good at wrecking stuff and not having a plan to fix it when it comes to the most vulnerable inparticular. For every state home taken away, a new one needed to have been built, just to not have gone backwards.

      The 2017 election cannot come quick enough for me.

  7. Treetop 7

    “People dying in winter of pneumonia and other illnesses is not new.”

    It is obvious which people are getting respiratory illnesses. The ones in a cold home would OUT NUMBER the ones in a warm home. Over crowding exacerbates the spread of viral and bacterial illness as well.

    Smith may as well be saying, the government are not prepared to prevent avoidable deaths which are associated with a person living in a cold home because they cannot afford to heat it.

    It would be cheaper for a dhb to pay for a sick persons electricty compared to a hospital admission.

    Dying from pneumonia is an awful death.

  8. Brutus Iscariot 8

    Nick Smith is 100% right though. The problem is people who have no idea how to look after themselves or keep up a household properly, so wallow in squalor.

    Being cold in winter is not new.

    My father-in-law grew up on a farm down in the Hunua. In winter they had to layer newspaper between blankets for extra heat. Hot showers and all that were unheard of.

    Just put on more clothes FFS, we don’t live in Finland. Mould can be cleaned, and houses aired.

    • Chch_chiquita 8.1

      If you have Asthma the cold air you breath will have an effect on it. No amount of layers will help and your condition will only get worse.
      Winter is cold. Outside. It shouldn’t be cold inside as well.
      In Africa they don’t have clean water. Maybe we should make sure we don’t have clean water too?

    • dukeofurl 8.2

      OMG. A swivel eyed loon!

    • happynz 8.3

      My father-in-law grew up on a farm down in the Hunua. In winter they had to layer newspaper between blankets for extra heat. Hot showers and all that were unheard of.

      That was your father-in-law’s life. Fast forward to winter 2015. Do you layer newspapers between your blankets? I reckon not. I’d wager you don’t lack for hot showers either.

      Man, I get so weary of the meme of “Our poor aren’t poor. Look, they got shoes and shit…”

    • Treetop 8.4

      How fortunate to have grown up on a farm, (not having to shift about and fresh meat to and land for a vege plot).

      Back then people had coppers to boil water and open fire places, (with enough wood on the land to fuel the copper and fire place). Farming back then was profitable and blankets could have been purchased or shorn wool from the sheep made into a duvet or a wool rest made from sheep skins. The cost of electricity was affordable, not like now.

      Most people live in cities and city living is not country/rural living. Unless a person has enough to live on, they may wallow in squalor.

      How much income do you think people need to not wallow in squalor?

      Do you really think that people have no idea on how to look after themselves?

      • Colonial Rawshark 8.4.1

        No trouble to stay warm with a 6kW heatpump blasting away 24 hours a day.

    • Kiwiri 8.5

      Being cold in winter is not new.
      Newspaper is not new.
      Blankets are not new.
      “More clothes” is not new.
      Even Finland is not new.
      Mould is not new.
      Airing houses is not new.

      Ok, hot showers are new.
      “And all that” is new too.

      hat tip:

    • b waghorn 8.6

      Cold blooded right wingers not understanding for one minute that its there greed that’s causes misery. IS NOT NEW

  9. Jim in Tokyo 9

    I’d love to know the figures for NZ; I’ve checked the study cited and we’re not mentioned. I’d guess it’s bad though, really bad.

    “As we shiver through the first weeks of winter, here’s a fact to give you goosebumps: more people die from the cold in Australia than in Sweden. According to a new study published in medical journal The Lancet, cold contributed to about 3.9 per cent of deaths in Sweden, but 6.5 per cent in Australia.”


  10. Tracey 10

    I wonder if some of the people at HNZ are quietly pleased the government is having the light shone on them? Because they can start doing the right thing with families and state houses?


    On the radio this morning I think I heard Bennett answering a question about cold, damp homes by saying it was the fault of lack of housing supply – which sound slike she has confused housing affordability in Auckland with Government responsibility to make sure its tenants are warm and dry.

    I may have misunderstood her.

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